Lakehead business students help design marketing plan for new Huronia Economic Alliance website

May 2, 2013 – Orillia, ON


Lakehead business students help design marketing plan for new Huronia Economic Alliance website

You have just put together a new economic development initiative to build and support prosperity in your region and have launched a new brand and website. Now, how to promote the website and the region’s economic development opportunities, becomes the challenge facing the recently formed Huronia Economic Alliance.

The Huronia Economic Alliance (HEA) is a joint venture of the Town of Midland, Town of Penetanguishene, Township of Tay, and Township of Tiny. It was formed in 2012 to support the economic development efforts of these four member municipalities. Realizing the importance of marketing the new HEA and its website, Town of Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall contacted Lakehead University in Orillia with a proposal for a student project.

The proposal was met with enthusiasm by the University’s leadership and Lakehead Assistant Professor Dr. Joseph Paniculangara. The professor thought the project would provide a valuable learning experience for students in his Marketing II course.

“I introduced the project to my students, explaining that the objective was to build awareness for the organization [HEA] and the website – both within the four municipalities, and beyond the borders of the Huronia area,” said Dr. Paniculangara.

The students were divided into six groups, with each team focusing on one of the six economic development sectors identified by the HEA: industry, healthcare, retail, agriculture, tourism and recreation.

In April, the students concluded their course with project presentations to the class and HEA representative, Jessica Klug, Senior Planner with the Town of Penetanguishene.

“I was overwhelmed by the presentations – there were so many ideas and suggestions,” said Klug. “It was especially useful to hear from a young audience. The students stressed the importance of using social media. Many of us are keen about the potential of social media, but not savvy enough to follow through with a social media strategy.”  Klug was also impressed to learn that some of the student groups actually came up to the area as part of their research.

Lakehead student Erica McCluskey explained that before working on the project she didn’t know much about the heritage and history of the area. “As part of our research for the tourism sector, we visited the region. I have always been interested in local history and now I’m looking forward to a trip back to the area this summer.”

All of the groups identified some common challenges, including confusion around the name, “Huronia.” They suggested a need for increased brand recognition and understanding. Among their many recommendations, from branding taglines to new areas of eco-friendly businesses, the students all mentioned the importance of social media, saying that this was “the next generation of word of mouth marketing.”

Klug assured the students that their reports would be put to good use. “They will all be turned over to our website design team this summer.” With support from the Province of Ontario’s Communities in Transition program, the HEA will be contracting web design services for the project.  

Student Khanh Nguyen said he enjoyed the assignment because it provided a “real life” project. “I’m glad to hear that our recommendations will be considered,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the results and how they will help improve the economy of the region.”

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 Business class students with Senior Planner from the Town of Penetanguishene

Business students at Lakehead Orillia conclude their year with the presentation of a class project for the Huronia Economic Alliance. Shown with the students are Assistant Professor Dr.Joseph Paniculangara (far right) and Senior Planner from the Town of Penetanguishene, Jessica Klug (third from right).